Dinosaur Eggs

University of Bristol

The history of dinosaur egg discoveries

Dinosaur eggs have been known for thousands of years, although at first they were not recognised as 'dinosaur eggs' and were used for jewellery and shaping ornaments. Many eggshells were found in late Palaeolithic or early Neolithic sites in Mongolia.

The first real discovery of dinosaur eggshell was in 1859 from southern France, by Jean Jacques Pouech. The French eggs were thought to belong to giant birds at first, because of their large size. More complete eggs were found in 1869 by Matheron. He thought these eggs belonged to a giant crocodile. In 1877 Paul Gervais (1816-79) published the first detailed study of the eggs, and suggested that they could belong to a dinosaur. They are now known to have been laid by the sauropod dinosaur Hypselosaurus.

In 1923 the Central Asiatic Expeditions of the American Museum of Natural HIstory made significant new discoveries in the Gobi Desert,Mongolia. Roy Chapman Andrews found the first recognised dinosaur nests. The eggs were thought at that time to belong to Protoceratops but are now known to belong to Oviraptor.

Below;the traditional view of Protoceratops, defending its nest from Velociraptor.

The 'Golden Age' of dinosaur 'egg hunting' probably really began after John Horner's discovery of the 'good mother lizard'Maiasaura nests in the 1980s. Evidence suggested parental care of the dinosaur eggs and a colonial nesting ground (Horner 1979).

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